Midweek Myers Movie Review: Finding Neverland (2004)

It is perhaps a sad commentary on our times—or on my own twisted imagination—that when I saw the title of the film Audre Myers‘s reviewed this week, I thought it might have something to do with Michael Jackson’s troubled, unusual relationships with minors.

Fortunately, that was not the case (which would have been quite incongruous for Audre), and instead she offered up a lovely review of what sounds like a lovely film.

There seems to be a whole genre of these films now, something that might be called a “whimsical biopic.”  They tend to focus on harmlessly eccentric Brits who lived quirky lives and created memorable children’s book characters or the like.

Well, I’m all for them.  Give me a rose-tinted view of historic Britishness any day!

With that, here is Audre’s review of 2004’s Finding Neverland:

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Revisiting Walking Across South Carolina

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post entitled “Walkin’,” in which I detailed the pleasures of short walks around town.  In that post, I also mused about long-distance walking, and even about its popularity in the 1960s and 1970s.  One of my readers and subscribers even noted the construction of The Palmetto Trail, a five-hundred-mile trail that cuts diagonally from the Upstate (the northwestern corner of South Carolina) down to the Lowcountry (the southeastern side of our State’s triangle), of which roughly 380 miles are completed.  That trail wends through State parks and towns, offering a variety of landscapes and scenes.

In listening to John Taylor Gatto excessively over Spring Break (and nursing a bad foot-and-ankle sprain), he frequently mentioned stories about famous individuals who completed massive, almost absurd tasks, often with little training.  For example, he frequently told the story of a six-year old Richard Branson walking home in London after his mother drove him around for a few hours, and then asked, “Richard, do you think you can find your way home?”  When the child responded yes, the mother told him to get to it, booted him from the car, and drove home.  Branson (per Gatto) said that after that experience, he was never afraid of anything again, and could face any challenge.

I’m not advocating we drop six-year olds off in the middle of nowhere and make them walk home (my niece is six, and while she is brave and confident, I shudder to think what might become of her if my brother pulled the same stunt).  But there is a real need for adventure in our lives.  There’s also something to be said for the benefits of taking on and conquering—or even just attempting and failing—a large-scale undertaking.

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Ponty’s Pics: Blakeney and the Morston Marshes

It seems that flattery motivates contributors, at least 39 Pontiac Dream/Always a Kid for Today/Mike Fahey, who has sent along some lovely photographs of a recent trip he and his significant other took to Blakeney and the Morston Marshes, both places with distinctly British names.

I won’t offer much more by way of preamble, and instead have included the body of Ponty’s e-mail to me, which explains a bit more about the pictures in detail.

They remind me a great deal of the salt marshes around Beaufort, South Carolina, and the outlying barrier islands on the way to Fripp Island.

But enough from me.  Here’s Ponty:

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English Sunrise

My good online friend and photographic contributor 39 Pontiac Dreamer has sent in some lovely pictures of an English sunrise.  To my discredit, he e-mailed me these photographs two months ago, and I am only now finding the time to post them, after repeated apologies, delays, equivocations, and plain excuses.

It’s been so long now, it escapes me what the genesis of these pictures were.  I believe Ponty and I were carrying on a conversation in the comment section of a post about rising early in the morning, and that it’s the best time to get work done.

Regardless, here are some gorgeous photographs of a hazy English morning, just as the mighty sun peeks itself over the horizon:

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Halloween in England

Good ol’ 39 Pontiac Dreamer, one of my regular readers, is as big a fan of Halloween as I am.  To that end, he e-mailed me a TON of Halloween pictures over the weekend, including his and his wife’s Jack O’Lanterns.  He says hers is the more elaborate one, while he goes for a simpler, more classic approach (like me).

Per Ponty:

We had a few trick or treaters over the evening but, thankfully, not at a crucial point in any of our films…. The films in the pictures by the way are Ringu and the Romero classic Dawn of the Dead.

Ponty also sent me some excellent photographs of an English sunrise—in September!  I’ve been so slammed, I keep forgetting to upload them.  Look for those next Tuesday.

For now, here are the pictures of Ponty’s British Halloween:

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Major Loot

In 2014, Hobby Lobby purchased a tablet containing an excerpt from the Epic of Gilgamesh, perhaps the oldest epic work of literature in Western Civilization.  The tablet is 3500-years old, and Hobby Lobby won the tablet in a Christie’s auction, paying $1.6 million for it.  Hobby Lobby displayed the tablet in its Museum of the Bible, which houses a number of rare and ancient artifacts.

Now, Hobby Lobby has forfeited the tablet to the US Department of Justice due to it shady provenance.  It seems that the original seller falsified a letter of provenance to show that the tablet had entered the United States before laws against importing rare artifacts were enacted.

To make matters worse, Christie’s apparently knew that the letter was questionable, but withheld that information.

Unfortunately, that means Hobby Lobby took one on the chin financially.  I’m not sure what the fate of the original smuggler is, but I imagine he’s long gone and living the sweet life.

The bigger question, though, is what should be done with such artifacts?  Current US policy seems to be to return them to their country of origin.  While that might seem to the be simplest policy, is it really best for the preservation of the artifacts—and our cultural heritage?

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Lazy Sunday CXX: Animals, Part II

For some reason that even I can’t even explain, I have suddenly become a big squish when it comes to animals.  For years I just didn’t care about them all that much:  sure, they’re sometimes good companions, but they’re kind of annoying and expensive—like kids, but they can’t grow up to take care of you when you’re inching towards the grave in a senile fog.

Now—inexplicably!—I’ve been torturing myself by looking at animals online at my county’s animal shelter (my lizard hindbrain wants to adopt this guy, but my pragmatic rationality forbids it).  Am I becoming the male equivalent of a thirty-three-year old single white female, trying to fill the void of a childless existent with a canine substitute?

I don’t think so.  I suspect this sudden onset of Francis of Assisi-esque animal loving is because I’ve blessed to spend the last year around really good dogs.  Who wouldn’t want a buddy to loaf around with, and to take on long walks?

That has apparently translated to caring for our slimier friends of the more aquatic variety, too.  I did, after all, make an attempt at building a makeshift frog pond for all the croakers hanging around my house.

That said, this 120th edition of Lazy Sunday is going to the dogs—and whales, pigeons, and frogs:

  • Hard to Swallow” – The story of man spit from the mouth of a humpback whale, which I then relate (predictably) to the remarkable—and, seriously weird—story of Jonah.
  • Release the Pigeons” – 5000—maybe more!—British racing pigeons disappeared during a recent race.  I’m not sure what is the bigger mystery:  how the pigeons disappeared, or how racing pigeons become a niche sport in Great Britain.
  • Adventures in Gardening: Building a Frog Pond” – This post details how I played around in the mud in my garden, and built my first attempt at Frogtopia.  It includes lots of pictures, and even a picture of a German shepherd and me playing with a toad.

That’s it for this extra-fluffy edition of Lazy SundayFind yourself a shelter pet!

Oh—and Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Sunday!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Release the Pigeons

Here’s a weird bit of animal news for you:  around 5000 of 9000 carrier pigeons engaged in pigeon racing disappeared.  The pigeons were part of an obscure sport that races homing pigeons, and it’s unclear why over half of the birds never returned home.

Carrier and homing pigeons aren’t as necessary today as they were even one hundred years ago, what with improvements in communication technology.  When everyone is carrying around a Star Trek communicator with more computing power than the Apollo spacecrafts, the need to maintain a rookery of sky-rats is quite diminished.

That said, the birds are quite remarkable.  Carrier pigeons have saved thousands of lives in various conflicts around the world.  The piece in The Western Journal about the missing pigeons discusses the heroics of Cher Ami, a pigeon that saved the 77th Infantry Division’s “lost battalion” in the First World War “by delivering 12 messages and returning to his roost despite being shot in the leg”  The brave bird died from his injuries in 1919, but “was awarded the Croix de Guerre by France.”

Survivalists and homesteaders might take a particular interest in homing pigeons:  while they’re not particularly useful now, they could be quite useful in the event of a major failure of the power grid, or should the Internet and various cellular services go down.

But what of the missing birds?

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Monday Morning Movie Review: The Ghost Writer (2010)

Roman Polanksi is a sexual weirdo and a fugitive from justice, but, dang, he makes good movies.  A couple of weekends back I stumbled upon The Ghost Writer (2010) on Hulu, more evidence that the streaming service is upping its game.

The Ghost Writer is a product of the Bush Era, when Hollywood was obsessed with Bush Derangement Syndrome—a psychological condition akin to Trump Derangement Syndrome, but which now seems quaint and cute by comparison.  The plot involves a ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) hired to punch-up the boring, windy memoirs of a Tony Blair-esque former British Prime Minister.  The former PM is facing prosecution for war crimes for his alleged role in illegally torturing terrorists during the War on Terror, and while he is considered a “world-historical” figure, his pro-war stance while PM has made him deeply unpopular.

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